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Tag: My Little Corner

Two women, Brenda Shenton in light orange sweater and Shannon Peace in dark rust shirt, with award certificates earned by Shootin' the Breeze.

Celebrate National Newspaper Week with us

While times are tough in most industries right now, our team tries to keep our chins up as we face new, and unique, challenges in the newspaper business.

Celebrating what Shootin’ the Breeze does well is something I enjoy. It’s not meant in a vain way but as a matter of shining a bright spotlight on the people who work very hard to ensure there is a newspaper in your hands every Wednesday morning.

A few weeks back, Brenda Shenton and I spent a weekend in Edmonton at the annual general meeting and convention of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. We’d talked about going together for a number of years, and now that she’s retired she finally had time to join me!

If you ask, Brenda will tell you that she came away with much deeper insight into what happens beyond our local media outlet. She knows that, despite the potholes and bumps on the newspaper highway, I come back from this annual event rejuvenated and motivated.

The turnout was grim and, as convention chairwoman, it’s something I’ve been trying to address over the past two years. Many say they simply can’t afford the cost of the trip or the cost of being away from their office for even two days.

On the bright side, those in attendance, both in person and virtually, are committed to keeping Alberta’s newspapers strong.


Young woman with long, straight, brown hair smiles on Ascent Dental ad. Her Invisalign braces can barely be seen.


Hardships were acknowledged and solutions were sought. There’s no better place to do this than among a group of your peers.

Once ideas get flowing, things quickly get productive. I’m sure each publisher in attendance went home with something new to implement.

Sometimes conversation leads to more questions than answers. This is just as important.

Brenda made a point of speaking with all of the younger members in attendance. She heard positive hopes for the future and concerns that their older co-workers or employers often aren’t open to trying new ideas.

An age-old story that is not limited to the press.


AWNA 2023 board of directors; Jeff Burgar, Amanda Zimmer, Lisa Sygutek, Shannon Peace and Evan Jamison.
2023 board of directors of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association are Jeff Burgar of the HIgh Prairie South Peace News, left, Amanda Zimmer of the Claresholm Local Press, Lisa Sygutek of the Pass Herald, Shannon Peace of Shootin’ the Breeze and Evan Jamison of the St. Albert Gazette. Missing are Craig Barnard of Post Media and Daria Zmiyiwsky of Black Press. | Photo by Pearl Lorentzen of the Slave Lake Lakeside Leader


Cloud of smoke over the logo for Pincher Creek Vape Shop advertising the store


The AGM always ends with the swearing in of the AWNA board of directors. A number of us are in our fourth year serving together, giving the board stability and strength.

This year, Lisa Sygutek of the Pass Herald has moved to the role of board president and I will work alongside her as vice-president.

Amanda Zimmer of the Claresholm Local Press is back on the board, giving southwestern Alberta the benefit of three female independent newspaper owners having a voice.

I mention female because back when my parents and Lisa’s parents were involved, these positions were generally held by men.

Joining us are Daria Zmiyiwsky of Black Press, Craig Barnard of Postmedia, Evan Jamison of the St. Albert Gazette and Jeff Burgar of the High Prairie South Peace News.

Lisa has been heavily involved in the government affairs of the association, something she excels in. Lisa is feisty and blunt, and fights for what she believes in.

We all believe in the value of community newspapers and look forward to a strong year supporting Alberta’s community news sources.


Solar panel on ad for Riteline Electric in Pincher Creek


Along with a new title, I returned home with a number of awards for our publication.

The BNC Awards of Excellence and Photographic Awards are open to all Alberta newspapers, from the smallest to the largest.

Best Ad Campaign Award – third place: Jaiden Panchyshyn for Blackburn Jewellers 2022 Shop Local for Christmas campaign.

Best Agricultural Section – third place: Shootin’ the Breeze.

Sue Gawlak Best Local Editorial – honourable mention to Shannon Peace for My Little Corner.

Sports Writing Award – honourable mention to Mia Parker for Local Women Excel in 1,000-Mile Survival Race on the Yukon River.

Wildlife Photo – honourable mention to Jenaya Launstein.

The BNC General Excellence Awards are classed according to circulation. Shootin’ the Breeze is in a group of 13 newspapers and the awards reflect the work of our entire team.

Best Editorial Page – second place

Best Overall Score – third place

Best Front Page – third place

I tip my hat to my co-workers at the Breeze and to my fellow board members of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. Work well done is worthy of celebration as we move forward.


Sara Hawthorn, woman with long brown hair and glasses on ad for EXP Realty in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass


Plate of Charlie Biggs' chicken tenders with sauces on the side and link to Blairmore menu.
Multi-coloured glass heart sits on a hockey puck in the snow

Moving forward with hope

April 6, 2018.

The first message came via text from my daughter, Jaiden. “The Humboldt Broncos bus was on the way to Nipawin to play the Hawks and was in an accident with a semi at the Armley corner.”

The junior A hockey team was headed to a playoff game in my hometown in Saskatchewan.

The Armley corner is one that drivers in that neck of the woods know well. It is one that had claimed lives before that fateful day and it is, unfortunately, one a single driver in a semi truck did not know well.

A nation was glued to the news as the aftermath of the accident settled in. You didn’t need to be a hockey fan, or to have any connection to the 16 who died or the 13 who were injured, to feel the magnitude of the number of lives that changed in an instant on that fateful day.

It is a poignant experience to stop at the roadside memorial on Highway 35, a harsh realization of what can happen when two vehicles’ paths cross at full speed.


Sara Hawthorn, woman with long brown hair and glasses on ad for EXP Realty in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass


Memories of that night are burned forever into the minds of all who survived the crash, the first responders who witnessed the carnage, and the medical personnel who did all they could for each person brought from the bus. 

It impacted their families, their communities and their futures in a way that most of us will never fully grasp.

We did our best, in our own ways, to support those affected. As a mom, it broke my heart. These kids could have been my own.

Five years have now passed and you may wonder why I would choose to give our front page to an event that seems to many to be long ago and far away.

Negativity has been swirling around for the past few years, and a reminder of great generosity that came in the face of tragedy is good for us all.

While there was huge financial and community support offered to the players and their families, that’s not what I’m referring to.


Shelves of bottled liquor in an ad for Town & Country Liquor Store in Pincher Creek


When Logan Boulet of Lethbridge signed an organ donor card after turning 21, no one could have imagined that only a few weeks later, in death, he would be giving life and hope to at least six other people.

What great respect his parents deserve for ensuring Logan could give this final gift.

The Logan Boulet Effect came to life when people heard of the donation of his organs. It started a chain reaction that led to a spike in people signing donor cards in the weeks and months after the accident.

Other young men who were on the bus that day have done inspiring things as well. Focusing on Logan Boulet is natural when he grew up just down the road. 

That is something people in our community can relate to, especially in a time when mental wellness is a challenge for many.

You may recall that green shirts became symbolic of support for the Broncos almost immediately. Like me, you may have purchased one from the Pincher Creek Co-op and may reflect on days when you pull it over your head.


Woman, man and child take a Christmas selfie together in Ascent Dental ad


Green Shirt Day was created the following year and I definitely noticed people donning the colour and the symbols, whether on their shirts or hats.

It is a colour of hope and, not coincidentally, the colour associated with organ and tissue donation.

I think we can all use a little hope and the message is timely. 

The first green grass of spring is showing, bringing with it a feeling of renewal, and is tangible as we see new life beginning all around us and feel the warmth of the April sunshine. 

This is the kind of hope that moves us forward.

Five years ago, Brenda Shenton shared a perfect image to go alongside my words in this column. This image is one she created in 2021 on the anniversary of the bus crash. Even in tragedy there can be beauty, and legacies can be created on the most difficult of days.



Millions of words have been written about the Broncos since the crash. Mine are but a drop in the bucket, but today, as they were then, they are from the heart.

On this highway that is life, we don’t know what lies ahead. Tragedies may leave us feeling uncertain about getting back aboard the bus or about letting our children do so.

Each step we take toward positive action takes us closer to healing ourselves. Life is a challenging journey and seeing both loss and beauty in an image like Brenda’s above, takes us to a better place.

It is hope that helps us move forward. Take a look — can you see the green around you?

Man wearing dress shirt and tie with computer on his lap sits next to three AI robots wearing ties

Jasper AI versus local reporter

Artificial intelligence has been around for decades but it seems to be a topic everyone is talking about right now. I’ve been chatting with another newspaper publisher about opportunities and concerns when it comes to AI taking steps into the industry.

The use of AI by journalists, bloggers, novelists, poets, songwriters and kids who don’t care to do homework is not new — it’s been lurking around for about 60 years — but it is trending.

Technology already looks after many mundane tasks — Google Maps is one example and Siri another. Saying “Hey Siri, dial Mom” simplifies the process of making a call and it’s nice not to have to pull over to read a map in rush-hour traffic. 

If you take a look around, you’ll see just how surrounded we are by technology that makes things easier for us. Machines make decisions based on data, which, in some ways, could make them better decision makers. If nothing else, they can certainly be faster. 


Meals on Wheels logo on ad announcing that the service is coming soon to Pincher Creek and volunteers are needed


The ability of AI to tackle highly complex tasks and computations is one of its strengths. It can learn and make predictions, and optimize based on outcomes. 

In his article 15 Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence You Should Know, Mike Kaput lists automation of repetitive tasks, reduction of human error, completing tasks too dangerous for humans, better decision-making and problem-solving, cost savings, increased production and the ability to work 24 hours a day as pros to using AI.

“To experience the pros of AI, you need to have a clear, realistic understanding of its cons,” he says. These include the amount and quality of data AI has access to, the potential to make bad or harmful decisions, rationale behind decisions isn’t always provided, potential bias based on data provided, elimination of human jobs, unevenness of advancement in different fields means it doesn’t always deliver on promises, and it can be expensive.

I recently purchased a vacuum that incorporates AI with the hope it will spend more time sweeping up dog hair than me. I’m not averse to using technology in this manner although some would caution that its camera could be a spy.



Some also say that AI will continue to replace journalists. This is true to some degree, but I can’t imagine turning these pages over to a robot to fill.

I tested what AI could do in the newsroom and chose Jasper AI for the job. Touted on its website as “the #1 AI Copywriter,” it scours the web to find information to create a story for you. 

My experiment: Jasper versus Laurie (our civic affairs journalist) in creating an article.

The headline and first paragraph of Laurie’s page 2 story were provided to Jasper to base its own on, with the following result in about 10 seconds:



The Town of Pincher Creek is one step closer to having a new curling rink, after council narrowly approved the motion at the last meeting. The proposed rink would be built at the Community Recreation Centre on 942 Hyde Street and will be subject to a borrowing bylaw that must still pass before it can move forward. 

This new facility would provide recreational opportunities for the community and create a much-needed gathering space. It is estimated to cost around $2 million, with half of that money coming from grants, and the other half from local taxes. 

If everything goes according to plan, the Town of Pincher Creek could have an updated curling rink before the end of 2021. The project would create a number of jobs in the area and could help to stimulate the local economy. 

Mayor John Smith says, “This is an exciting opportunity for our community. We know that many people enjoy curling and this will provide them with a place to do it. This project has been a long time coming and we are looking forward to making it a reality.” 


Ad for services from Riteline Electric in Pincher Creek


The Town of Pincher Creek is now in the process of developing a borrowing bylaw that would fund the construction. Once this is approved, work on the rink can begin. The Town Council is hopeful that this new addition to their community will help create an enjoyable environment for all.

This is a hands-down win for Laurie as the article is full of inaccurate information.

Jasper could possibly have a role in headline creation, SEO optimization, proofreading (to a degree) and idea generation, but is not reliable for creating community news stories.

As AI becomes more prominent, consider the trustworthiness of the source. I’ll take a human who lives in and cares about the community any day.

Ask Mayor Smith.


Hunter Douglas blinds on living-room window in Blinds and More December sale ad in Pincher Creek.


Santa floating in a round tube in the an ad for family passes to the Pincher Creek swimming pool


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